Seoul Soondubu | Bukchangdong Soondubu Restaurant Review
Want to find the best Seoul Soondubu? Looking for a popular Korean restaurant chain? Like to try Korean soft tofu stew?
Tofu is known all over the world as healthy, vegan friendly well being food. In America or in Europe you can often try tofu in vegetarian or vegan friendly dishes. All East Asian countries (Korea, Japan, and China) and Southeastern Asian countries enjoy to eat tofu in their daily cuisine. This article is about Bukchangdong Soondubu, which is a tofu restaurant chain in South Korea.
What Is Soondubu?
In China, there is dried tofu which is often used in Chinese hot pot. In Japan, there is silken tofu which you dip in soy sauce or to put in miso soup. And in Korea, there is also silken tofu which is used in Korean soups. This type of tofu is made by pressing curdled soybean milk. Korean tofu is famous for its softer and milder texture than other types of tofu. Koreans eat a special type of tofu called “soondubu (soft tofu)” which is extra soft silken tofu. And they cook it in a stew with vegetables and seafood.
Tofu is called dubu in Korean and it is originally made of soybean milk. Most dubu is processed by pressing and cooling down soybean milk to make it solid. Once it becomes solid, it is then cut in a cube shape. However, soondubu is the dubu which is not pressed in the process. So that’s why it is called soft tofu. Korean soft tofu is usually served in soup or stew as one of the many ingredients. Soondubu is a bit different, and it is the main ingredient in the stew. One of the most popular stews in Korea is called soondubu-jjigae.
The origin of soondubu-jjigae comes from the Joseon dynasty. The purpose of this food was to provide it to elderly people. Later, as it is soft and mild enough to eat, this food became popular in the rest of Korea. Even though soft tofu contains more water and less nutrients than normal tofu, people can smell and taste the original soybean flavour more than in normal dubu. There are several types of soondubu-jjigae, but every soondubu-jjigae is made with seafood broth (clams, shrimps and oysters). Then usually vegetables like green onion, onion, and mushrooms are added. Meat (beef or pork) is optional.
About Bukchangdong Soondubu
In the Seoul city hall area, there is Bukchangdong food street, where you’ll find lots of restaurants with great food. This area is also close from Myeongdong or Namdaemun, which is well known for its South Gate, national treasure number 1. This area is very easily accessible for both foreigners and Koreans.
There are quite a lot of restaurants that serve soondubu-jjigae in Seoul. But most restaurants only serve spicy soondubu-jjigae. However, at Bukchangdong Soondubu you can order both spicy or non spicy soft tofu stew.
This Seoul soondubu restaurant is owned and run by DKORE (Delicious Korean Restaurant) since 2001. The company has constantly been improving new recipes and closely supervising all their different branches. Because of this , all their restaurants serves same quality food.
All ingredients, including the soft tofu, are supplied by DKORE to each branch early in the morning.
Like most Korean restaurants, the table has a little drawer with Korean stainless steel chopsticks and spoons.
Bukchangdong Soondubu Menu
Bukchangdong Soondubu serves 12 different types of soondubu-jjigae and you can request to have it either less or non spicy. You can pick soondubu-jjigae with beef, intestines, seafood (oysters or pollack), mushrooms and more.
Seafood soondubu-jjigae is their original menu. But if you like pollack or oysters, you could order the pollack soondubu-jjigae or oyster soondubu-jjigae. Beef intestine soondubu-jjigae and brisket Soondubu-jjigae are more savoury and meaty flavour than the other dishes. The signature menu (Bukchangdong Soondubu) combines seafood and beef.
Soondubu-jjigae with soybean paste is quite a unique combination that you can probably only taste in this Seoul soondubu restaurant. Other unique dishes are the dumpling soondubu-jjigae or the ham and cheese soondubu-jjigae. Those two dishes are more foreigner friendly than the others. All types of soondubu-jjigae are served with stone pot rice.
Our Personal Review
1. The Food
During our last visit we ordered one original soondubu-jjigae, the ginseng chicken porridge, marinated grilled spicy pork with stir fried vegetables and egg omelette with cheese. Before the main dishes are served, the waitress will bring over 3 side dishes. First one is dried seaweed with soy sauce. Second one is steamed soybean sprouts. And last but not least, yummy kimchi.
Before starting to eat the soondubu-jjigae, you can put a raw egg in the stew. Raw eggs are free of charge and you can use as many as you want.This makes the soondubu-jjigae savoury and rich! It also makes it less spicy.
The marinated grilled spicy pork with stir fried pork was a bit spicy, but it had a great smoky flavour. The chicken in the ginseng chicken porridge (samgyetang), was extremely tender chicken and the smell of the ginseng was quite strong. The egg omelette with cheese was also flavorful and was our personal favourite. Inside egg omelette, they put cheddar cheese, which gives it an even richer flavour than normal egg omelette!
Then the highlight of the food was boiled scorched rice! After finishing to eat the stone pot rice, you can put hot water in the stone pot and close the lid. This will turn the nureungi into a soft porridge flavoured rice. Very delicious!
Overall, this restaurant is very nice not only Koreans but also for foreigners. This is a very strong point for this Seoul soondubu restaurant chain. As sometimes it’s really hard to visit restaurants in Korea. However, here is very foreigner friendly as they have an English menu and most dishes are not too spicy. You can even ask them to make the food less spicy or not spicy at all. Price wise, most of the dishes are between 8000 and 11 000 krw which is pretty standard for Korean restaurants.
How To Get To Bukchangdong Soondubu
There are quite a few Bukchangdong Soondubu restaurants in Seoul but the main one is located in the Seoul City hall area.
Address: 서울특별시 중구 태평로2가 세종대로 78
Leave City Hall Station at exit 7 and go straight for a block and the restaurant is located on your left hand side. The restaurant is located on the 2nd floor, so don’t forget to look up.
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Written by Evan